Indigenization as Appropriation (What Being Baptized Could Have Meant for the Natives of Cebu in 1521)

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Book Chapter

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Everything that we know about the two main events related to the 500th Year of the Arrival of Christianity in the Philippines—namely, the First Mass and the First Baptism—comes mainly from the Chronicles of Antonio Pigafetta. Did the natives who joined the Mass and “submitted” themselves to a Christian Baptism on April 14, 1521, in the island of Cebu really do so with the deliberate intention of “converting” to the religion that had been preached to them by Magellan himself? Pigafetta seems to say so from his perspective as a European Christian of the early sixteenth century. This chapter aims to reinterpret the same events described by Pigafetta in his Chronicles, from an indigenous Philippine perspective. It intends to articulate what those events could have meant for our native ancestors. A basic contention in this brief study is that our native ancestors were and have always been accommodating toward other faiths, as long as they were given the space to decide on their own how to appropriate these foreign religions into their own religious worldview.